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Watch LeBron James’ teammates let him down with missed shots

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It was one of the themes of this year’s NBA Finals:

LeBron James was brilliant and his teammates let him down.

That oversimplifies matters — LeBron was far from perfect on defense, for example — but it’s not wrong, and this video highlights matters. LeBron was creating shots, broken hand or not, and his teammates were not helping out.

 

Tyronn Lue wants to be back coaching Cavaliers next year, whatever roster looks like

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The Cleveland Cavaliers’ roster is going to look very different next season. One way or another. Either LeBron James leaves and then Kevin Love and every veteran they can move gets traded, starting a rebuilding process around whoever the Cavs land with the No. 8 pick; or, LeBron stays, the No. 8 pick gets traded for a veteran who can help the team win now, maybe Love is moved for another better fit, but the roster around LeBron will look much different and be closer to something that could challenge Golden State.

Either way, Tyronn Lue wants to coach it.

Yeah, I do,” Lue said after Game 4 on if he planed do come back, despite dealing with anxiety issues that kept him away from the team for nine games last season. “I had some tough problems going on throughout the course of the season, and like you said, I probably could have folded myself, but I wasn’t going to do that. I knew that even if I wasn’t feeling a hundred percent, I had to get back for the playoffs. That’s my time. That’s my moment. I didn’t want to put our coaches in that situation. I didn’t want to put our players in that situation, and I had to fight through it. That’s what champions do. I gave everything I had.”

Lue likely does return and a key reason is money Lue has three years and is owed in the neighborhood of $25 million on his current deal. Lue also has the backing of owner Dan Gilbert.

Finally, Lue has the resume that should bring him back: a 128-77 regular season record, a 41-20 playoff record, and one championship.

Lue takes heat for some fans for his coaching acumen, but he can be a good planner of strategy — coming up with the Kevin Love corner action that flummoxed the Raptors for example. Lue is not as strong in-game, and he can be loyal to players when he should be more cold-blooded in the postseason (J.R. Smith in the Finals, for example), but he has the respect of players and that’s what matters most. Guys follow him.

The Cavaliers’ players will follow Lue next season. Whoever they are.

Lue, for his part, believes he can get better.

“Just about myself, I can always get better,” Lue said after Game 4. “But I know that I’m a tough guy. I pride myself on that. I’m hard on myself a lot of times, but I’ve got to realize I’ve only been coaching for two and a half years. It feels like 10 or 15. I can get better, and I’m going to get better. I just learned that you’ve got to stay the course in this profession. Anything can happen.”

You may hate it, but Kevin Durant explains why he doesn’t care you think he ruined the NBA

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“Why don’t today’s stars care more about winning than personal stats or being ‘The Man’ on their team?”

“How dare Kevin Durant join the Golden State Warriors and take the easy route to a championship!”

Welcome to the paradox of being Kevin Durant. Whatever he does, some segment of fans will rip him. It’s no win.

He doesn’t care. Anymore. There was a time when Durant was still seeking validation and joining the Warriors — and the support of Stephen Curry and company— provided that. Now? He’s a two-time Finals MVP and he’s moved on. He’s not worried you think he has ruined the game, as he explained to Michael Lee of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“My responsibility is to my skills. My responsibility is to myself,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I’m not worried about the NBA. That’s their job. They make too much money. They ain’t paying me enough to dictate the NBA. I should be making more money if all that’s on me. My responsibility is to whatever team I play for. All that other stuff, that’s on y’all…

“The Bay Area allows me to be who I am, as a city, to just blend in, and the team allows me to do the same thing,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “All I want to do in my life, while I’m healthy, is to work on my game and enjoy the game and not worry about nothing else. This place gives me that. This is the best place for me to just play ball, work on my game, play ball, and not care about [expletive] that normal NBA superstars are supposed to care about.”

How dare he focus on personal and professional joy at the expense of Twitter trolls.

His point on the NBA is valid. We don’t look back and think “it sucked when Magic’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics were meeting in the Finals all the time” or “it sucked when Jordan dominated the NBA.” Now those are revered as glory years. We look back on those eras as great basketball, and we will do the same with the Durant/Curry Warriors. Social media leads to contrarians, but those with weak points lose out in the long arc of history.

The Warriors are a dynasty. This is basketball as it should be played. Durant is part of that, and history will judge him accordingly.

Future odds: Warriors early favorite to win NBA title next year

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The Golden State Warriors have set the bar in the NBA — if any other team wants the Larry O’Brien Trophy, they will have to tear it away from Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the rest of the Warriors.

Good luck with that.

Which is why Golden State is the early favorite to win the 2018-19 NBA championship, according to the odds posted by Bovada.lv SportsBook. Notice that the rest of the odds hinge on where LeBron James chooses to play next year — all his most likely landing spots are near the top, the bookmakers trying to protect themselves from early bets that guess right on LeBron’s landing spot.

However, there’s going to be a lot of other, unexpected trades and moves this summer that will ultimately shake up this list even more.

Here are the 2019 title odds:

Golden State Warriors 5/4
Houston Rockets 4/1
Philadelphia 76ers 9/2
Boston Celtics 6/1
Los Angeles Lakers 16/1
Cleveland Cavaliers 25/1
San Antonio Spurs 25/1
Miami Heat 40/1
Toronto Raptors 60/1
Milwaukee Bucks 75/1
Minnesota Timberwolves 75/1
New Orleans Pelicans 75/1
Oklahoma City Thunder 75/1
Utah Jazz 75/1
Denver Nuggets 100/1
Indiana Pacers 100/1
Los Angeles Clippers 100/1
Portland Trail Blazers 100/1
Washington Wizards 100/1
New York Knicks 150/1
Phoenix Suns 250/1
Atlanta Hawks 500/1
Brooklyn Nets 500/1
Charlotte Hornets 500/1
Chicago Bulls 500/1
Dallas Mavericks 500/1
Detroit Pistons 500/1
Memphis Grizzlies 500/1
Orlando Magic 500/1
Sacramento Kings 500/1

Marvin Bagley III calls Deandre Ayton talk at No. 1 ‘disrespectful’

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PHOENIX — Marvin Bagley III has heard just about enough about how DeAndre Ayton is the favorite to become the Phoenix Suns’ choice as the No. 1 pick in this month’s NBA draft.

Bagley thinks he, not Ayton, deserves to be at the top of the draft and got a chance to make his case in an individual workout with the Suns on Friday.

“I definitely believe I’m the No. 1 pick,” Bagley said, “and if the Suns take me I’ll definitely show them why.”

Ayton took it a step further when he worked out for the Suns on Wednesday, saying “I know I’m going No. 1.” He said that Phoenix would be his only pre-draft workout.

Bagley, on the other hand, said he will work out for the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks, the teams with the No. 2 and No. 3 picks, respectively.

“Deandre, he’s going to do what he’s going to do. That’s his plan,” Bagley said. “All I can do is control what I can control and do what I love to do and just show different teams what I’m capable of doing. I can’t really worry about what other people are doing at this point. This is an important time in my life right now, something I’ve been working toward my whole basketball career.”

Bagley hears all the speculation that Ayton will go No. 1 and said he uses it as motivation.

“It’s disrespectful and I use it as drive every single day,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is all talk right now. Eventually we’ll have to go on the court and we’ll have to play. That’s where all the talking ends.”

Asked if he would have a “life-long” chip on his shoulder against the Suns if Phoenix didn’t pick him, Bagley answered, “I’m a competitive person. You never want to come in last. You always put the work in to be great and to get to that next level. That’s just the type of player that I am. So, to answer the question, yes.”

Fans in Phoenix have known about Bagley for years. He grew up in suburban Chandler, leading his high school to the state championship as a ninth grader. From there, Bagley shifted to other basketball-oriented schools. He and Ayton were even teammates for a season at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix.

Bagley finished his prep career at Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, California, before his one outstanding season at Duke.

He and Ayton are 19 years old and very big but with different games.

Ayton, 7-foot-1 and 260 pounds, is seen as strictly a center by the Suns. Bagley, 6-11 and 234 pounds, is a power forward who might someday play some at center in the NBA, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said.

So their individual workouts were different.

“We probably had Marvin do a little more ball-handling and a little more perimeter shooting and a little bit less around the basket than Deandre did,” McDonough said.

The Suns plan more workouts with No. 1 candidates this weekend. McDonough didn’t say who would work out when but he mentioned Mohamed Bamba of Texas and Jaren Jackson Jr. of Michigan State as players being considered for the top spot. Another is European sensation Luka Doncic, who is playing professionally in Spain.

“It seems like there are multiple guys who are worthy,” McDonough said. “Some years, to be honest with you, probably don’t have any guys who deserve it but somebody has to go one.”

Bagley certainly has the credentials. He was the ACC player of the year, averaging 21 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.

He believes he is best in an up-and-down, open-court game.

“Being able to get the ball and go off of rebounds and pushing,” Bagley said. “There’s a lot more space now than there is in college. Just being able to play in open space and getting out and running. I think that’s where my best is when we’re running and everybody’s not thinking and having fun.”

He said he wants to show NBA teams “that I’m an overall player.”

“I can do a lot inside and out, offensively and defensively,” Bagley said. “I just want to be able to have that mindset of coming in and showing everybody a full game, a full package.”